Sunday, 26 April 2015

Who am I?

My unconventional thinking would be my greatest strength.  My approach to

education and my own education is innovative.  As an educator, I was recognized by

the Saskatchewan Teachers Association and awarded the Arbos Award for

Contributions to Education and the Teaching Profession.  It honours teachers who

have made outstanding contributions to education and the teaching profession that

are broad and significant in their scope and impact.  It is the highest honour

that the Saskatchewan teaching profession can bestow.
In my 31 years as an elementary,high school teacher and administrator, I never

stopped learning.  This life-long learning approach has served me well in the

challenge of teaching in today’s ever-changing world.  My selection of post-

secondary education institutions has ranged from traditional to unconventional.  I

began my education with a physical education and education degree in a traditional

university at Brock University.  My Masters was completed at the open university

Athabasca, and my last was a Ph.D. in Education at Northcentral, specializing in

e-learning and teaching online at this one-to-one mentoring university.  Both

graduate programs were through universities that are unique and innovative in

their approach to education.  The variety and location of these post-secondary

programs were the theoretical catalysts for my understanding of the educational

reform that is necessary for all learning institutions.    My extensive graduate

studies explored the educational research and has guided me to develop an

educational pedagogy that embraces and utilizes the challenges of teaching in the

information age.  My professional career as an educator has been enhanced and

reflected by my lifetime of learning.

Education reform is a challenge that I have embraced throughout my development of

the online school here in Saskatoon.  A school that moved from face to face

teaching with the brick and mortar school to an interactive digital internet

school.  The online school philosophy recognized that the teaching of content is

not the way to educate but the ability to find and identify reliable information

is necessary to navigate the information age.  The resistance to any educational

change is normal but when met with legitimate reasoning and research it is

possible.  Many of my online teachers in the Cyber School used their technology-

infused courses to change the way they approached their face to face teaching.

The information age challenge requires an entirely different approach to

education, one in which many colleges are implementing.  The launch of a

successful cyber school prepared me to assist in the changes and challenges the

colleges will be experiencing as it attempts to fulfill their mandate of preparing

the teachers for the new era.  I taught all subjects in elementary school for nine years, physical education and art for two years in a first nation high school and art for nine years in a mainstream high school.  In the last 14 years in my education career, I proposed, developed and administered the largest and most successful cyber school in the province that lead me to consult and present at many post-secondary institutions and conferences around the world.  This extensive career path touched upon all aspects of education in our society.

Jamieson McKenzie (1991) stated “Shifting from Industrial Age thinking and

teaching to Informational Age thinking and teaching is as dramatic an adjustment

as shifting from teaching in a classroom to teaching underwater.”  An information

age with connected students having instant information, communication, multimedia

and entertainment and social networking tools is a new era that teachers cannot

realistically compete using the current educational approaches.  Kindergarten to

Grade 12 education for centuries has been designed around a philosophy that starts

with the assumption that a predetermined number of students will all learn the

same thing at the same time from the same person in the same way in the same place

for several hours each day.  All of the above statements would lead one to believe

we have an education system in Canada which is broken.   However, Canada is

considered to have one of the top five education systems in the world.  A ranking

that we should be very proud of but it is also a concern because it is used by

many to resist changing a system that is designed around a foundation that is

antiquated.

Education cannot exist as a silo, the collaboration among all society stakeholders

is required.  The business community, K-12 schools, the healthcare community and

universities must work together to develop a process that will be the educational

system of the future.  I was able to see the strength of such collaboration while

developing the online high school and given the freedom to explore and try

different and unique approaches to education and work with a variety of

stakeholders.

My ability and willingness to effect change within an organization is a strength.

My last position as the president of a software company was primarily analyzing,

evaluating, creating a new vision and then implementing the necessary changes.  I

am very quick to identify strengths and weaknesses and develop systems that

embrace the strengths and find solutions for the gaps.  I have much consulting

experience in post-secondary schools, adult education and training, business, and

secondary school in developing and adopting technology to enhance the strengths of

the organization.  Many times my role as a consultant has been to develop a

collaborative best practices approach to the existing systems and develop a

continuous improvement framework to push outcomes to the next level.  I have

worked with organizations monitoring, evaluating and training staff.  I have

planned entire programs from inception and launch to success and would embrace the

opportunity to assist in your future plans.

Contact me if you are looking for consultation or have a job that might interest

me.

Dr. Darren Cannell
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